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Bezalel 2019: Selected Works from the Graduates Exhibition
Niv Fridman, The Ibex man
, 2019, Graduated 2019, Fine Arts

“Blessed is the one whose will and power are in equal amount, and he can do whatever his heart wishes” this is the way Israel Aharoni, the first Hebrew zoologist opens the introduction for his memoir. The book describes in a beautiful, picturesque way the expedition he led between 1905-1944 in order to hunt and collect rare species for the  foundation of the first Zionist Natural History Collection. When I first found the book on a dusty shelf at the back of the library I was surprised by its clear message; there are two kinds of people, those who are lucky enough to have the ability to research the world and the less fortunate ones who are doomed to be the subjects of the research. As I read more I found a patronizing approach in the way he chose to describe both the animals and the residents of Israel at the beginning of the last century. From his point of view as a western researcher there was no difference between an object, an animal and a human being - all of them are subjected to the same type of pedantic examination.

After the encounter with Israel Aharoni that evoked in me mixed feelings, I started my own research in order to find the secrets he hid between the pages of his book. I visited his taxidermy collection in the basements of Givat Ram Campus, I chased his lost diaries and made interviews with the few people who could shed light on his past. After I collected a large amount of material I suddenly stopped and realized that during my journey I adjusted the same type of gaze which he describes in his book - but this time Aharoni himself was the subject of my research.

The inspiration to the exhibition came from my journey with Israel Aharoni. The different art works in the exhibition are a product of my research and each of them suggests a different kind of answer to the question that led me into it: what is the difference between the artist’s point of view and the researcher’s point of view? The phones exhibit digital drawings which depict the interview I made with different people about Aharoni’s life. The glass display shows documents from Aharoni’s file at the Hebrew University Archive. In the film “The Ibex man” Israel Aharoni’s character arrives at Mitzppe Ramon of 2019 and following a meeting with a member of the staff of a local hotel he is forced to deal with a question which he doesn’t answer in his book: is there a way to fill the gap between the researcher’s and the artist’s point of view? Is there a way to fill the gap between the moral, scientific order that says “don’t feed the Ibexes” and a different kind of approach which does not follow orders?

Niv Fridman
Graduated 2019
The Ibex man